Education Provision and Planning Permission

February 8th, 2013 by James Goudie KC

A private educational institution operated from premises which it did not have planning permission to use for educational purposes.  The Home Secretary revoked its A-rated Sponsor Licence under the Immigration Points Based System.  In  R (School of Business and Commerce Limited) v SSHD [2013] EWHC 126 (Admin) the Court dismissed the institution’s judicial review challenge to the revocation of the Licence.  The UKBA was entitled to regard the unlawful use of premises as a very serious matter.  The Judge observed that Colleges like that provided by the School meet important public policy criteria. They are an important part of the UK’s role in the wider world, bringing in foreign funds by providing skills and training to students from many countries. On completion of their studies, students in most cases return to their country of origin to deploy those skills, often in developing countries where they will prove of great value. Some remain in the UK as significant parts of the workforce here. The reputation of higher education facilities in the UK is strong. It is an implicit assumption that all prospective and actual students can make that they enter a lawfully run institution working from premises in which they are entitled to operate. SSHD’s decision on the planning issue was reasonably within her discretion. 

 There was also an issue about information concerning the attendance record of the students.  The information provided was incorrect.  Enquiries revealed that the non-attendance rate was high.  The Judge observed that, in order to maintain trust and sound policy application, it is essential for colleges to provide the Defendant with full and accurate information when UKBA is assessing whether there has been compliance with sponsor duties. The decision to revoke the sponsor licence was reasonable as a result of the failures in that respect. The decision on that ground was certainly within the discretion of the SSHD.